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While personal solicitation is perhaps the most effective means of raising money, so can special events or benefits. But special events can be very time-consuming to plan and execute, says Vandeventer. In addition, the cost could far outweigh the financial benefit.
"It’s a great way to the hospice message out," says Vandeventer. "You can get valuable public exposure. There is a downside, however. The amount of time spent vs. the amount raised [is] often inverted."
Also, because most events call for small donations to bring more participants, it is another example of how a hospice can spend more time catering to small donors when it should be concentrating its efforts on medium and major contributors.
Aside from successfully generating money for its annual obligations, Cedar Valley Hospice’s events are aimed at re-educating the public about hospice. Events such as its bike ride help remind the public of the programs it offers to both patients and the community.
"In the beginning it was education, education, education," says Deery. "Twenty years later, there are those who don’t understand what we are all about and the depth of care we provide."
Events such as those helped by Cedar Valley Hospice also have the ability to bring in new donors — people who otherwise would not have contributed. If the new donor learns about a hospice’s programs, they may feel compelled to donate again.
But more goes into cultivating repeat donors than a quick school about the hospice philosophy. Vandeventer urges hospices to stimulate a sense of ownership among their donors.
"People give to people," says Vandeventer. "Sure, they are giving to an organization, but they are giving their money to help others. You need to show them how their money is helping others."
For Cedar Valley Hospice, that task was made simple by the facility’s location, which is on one of the city’s busiest streets. Donors have watched the facility evolve and will be invited to tour the campus when it is completed.
Cedar Valley Hospice also has programs that must be funded annually. In addition to its patient services, it provides community outreach services, including a youth program that helps children deal with grief.
In order to show the fruits of donors’ generosity, Cedar Valley Hospice tries to keep its programs in the public eye, through media exposure and ongoing stewardship. In order to stay in the public eye, the hospice tries to send out at least one press release a month. In addition, volunteers and staff continually keep up with past donors and network with community leaders to cultivate more.
Vandeventer says hospices should offer larger donors a seat on the board to further nurture a sense of ownership. Major donors are often solicited by other charities; by placing these donors on the board, there will likely be a greater attachment to the hospice than other charities that are competing for the donor’s money.
Perhaps often overlooked is the need to thank donors. All donors should receive a thank-you letter, with major donors receiving a personal thank-you from a volunteer or the administrator of a hospice.
Give thanks in a timely manner, advises Vandeventer. "You should plan to give the appropriate thank-you based on the gift."
Aside from recruiting annual donors, hospices should also solicit estates for planned gifts, assets set aside for the hospice upon the benefactor’s death.
A planned gift must be evaluated not only on the basis of the impact that it will have upon the hospice, but also how it will be of benefit to the donor. A full-service planned giving program that offers a full range of options to the potential donor is very technical in nature and requires a significant amount of legal expertise on the part of the parties.
Planned gifts fall into these three basic categories: a) Bequests or outright gifts; b) invested funds with the principal going to the charity and the investment income going to the donor or the donor’s family; c) Invested funds with the principal reverting to the donor and the investment income going to the charity.
Charitable trusts are generally more complicated forms of planned giving. Depending upon the type of trust involved, the hospice recipient may receive income payments for a pre-determined number of years from a trust. After that period, the assets are returned to the donor. In this case, the income from the trust benefits the nonprofit, and the principal is retained by the donor.
For the smaller nonprofit hospice, some of those more complicated arrangements may be too ambitious. Your organization isn’t too small to get started with the simpler options, however. At the very least, consider adding a line to your newsletter stating that you accept bequests. Contact attorneys in your area to let them know of your interest. Start with the simplest options and add others, as you are able.